PIEDMONT -- The next time you attend a school board meeting, you will see a board member who is much younger than the others.
Allen Hosler, a Piedmont High School junior, is 16, and Peri Zangwill, a senior at Millennium High, the Piedmont Unified School District's alternative high school, is 17. They are student representatives to the school board who rotate attendance at the twice-monthly board meetings, keeping trustees up to date on high school events.
Student representatives are not allowed to vote, and they are not often asked their opinion on board matters. But their presence is symbolic of the district's focus on its students. And talking to them you get the impression that Hosler and Zangwill may be community leaders and full voting members of some public board in the future.
"It's good to have a little bit of representation, but it's not as much voting representation that it is presence and perspective," Hosler said. "We give our personal insight and events that are happening around the school."
Hosler said attending his first board meeting was a little intimidating at first, but he managed to fit in with some help from the adults.
"It was fun; everybody was incredibly nice," he said.
Anne Dolid, Piedmont High's assistant principal, has known Hosler for three years and had nothing but praise for him.
"Allen is a natural leader," Dolid said. "He's a great student to have on the school board because he's a strong leader, a strong communicator and always brings levity to serious situations."
Ting Hsu Engelman, Millennium High School's principal and the director of the Wellness Center/Student Services, was equally full of compliments about Zangwill.
"Peri Zangwill is a thoughtful, diligent and inquisitive student who leads her peers at Millennium High School by example," Engelman said. "At school board meetings, she delivers school highlights with poise and professionalism. It is absolutely a delight and honor to have Peri as a student."
Both students are vice presidents of their respective schools' associated student body organizations. When he is not in school, Hosler can be found rowing for the Oakland Strokes Rowing Club or volunteering at the Chabot Space and Science Center, where he works with children.
Zangwill is active in the East Bay's Jewish community and was president of the youth chapter of B'nai B'rith, the oldest Jewish service organization in the world.
She has been involved with youth leadership training and works with kids in the Mini Chefs program, where the children learn some rudimentary cooking skills.
Both students have good things to say about Piedmont's high school system.
"It (Piedmont High) is a place full of super-intelligent and hardworking students," he said. "You see that everywhere at Piedmont and Millennium. There are caring kind of people all around."
Zangwill came to Millennium this year after three years at Oakland Technical High School.
"The teachers really care about the students," she said. "There are a lot more resources at Piedmont."
Both are applying to colleges, with Hosler looking to attend a good engineering school and Zangwill hoping to pursue business and psychology. Hosler's outlook on life is that of unrestricted potential.
"I believe anyone can do almost anything they want," he said. "There aren't restrictions on what you can be or who or how."
Zangwill said she is more realistic, especially when choosing a potential college.
"I try to be optimistic, but I don't reach too far when applying to school," she said, "I'll strive in whatever environment I'm placed in."